Thursday, July 30, 2009

What are you leaving behind?

"...love is the soul of the world, though its body bleeds, and we must learn to bleed with it. Love is also the seed and milk and the fruit of the world, though we can partake of it in greed or reverence.

We are born, we eat, and learn, and die. We leave a tracery of messages in the lives of others, a little shifting of the soil, a stone moved from here to there, a word uttered, a song, a poem left behind. I was here, each of these declare. I was here."
~Michael O’Brien

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

For a Holy Heart

Lord, grant me a holy heart
that sees always what is fine and pure
and is not frightened at the sight of sin,
but creates order wherever it goes.
Grant me a heart that knows nothing of boredom, weeping
and sighing.
Let me not be too concerned with the bothersome thing I
call “myself.”
Lord, give me a sense of humor,
and I will find happiness in life and profit for others.
~St. Thomas More

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Resolve Rather than Solve

“...mysteries of the past [may seem] solved one by one... [however] nothing is [really] solved... our lives are not picture puzzles that must be completed in order to be understood.
...resolve rather than solve. One may solve a broken car by consulting a manual. One does not solve human lives.”
~Michael O’Brien

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hope (cont.)

“Day by day, man experiences many greater or lesser hopes, different in kind according to the different periods of his life. Sometimes one of these hopes may appear to be totally satisfying without any need for other hopes. Young people can have the hope of a great and fully satisfying love; the hope of a certain position in their profession, or of some success that will prove decisive for the rest of their lives. When these hopes are fulfilled, however, it becomes clear that they were not, in reality, the whole. It becomes evident that man has need of a hope that goes further. It becomes clear that only something infinite will suffice for him, something that will always be more than he can ever attain. In this regard our contemporary age has developed the hope of creating a perfect world that, thanks to scientific knowledge and to scientifically based politics, seemed to be achievable. Thus Biblical hope in the Kingdom of God has been displaced by hope in the kingdom of man, the hope of a better world which would be the real ‘Kingdom of God’. This seemed at last to be the great and realistic hope that man needs. It was capable of galvanizing—for a time—all man's energies. The great objective seemed worthy of full commitment. In the course of time, however, it has become clear that this hope is constantly receding…

…we need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us going day by day. But these are not enough without the great hope, which must surpass everything else. This great hope can only be God, who encompasses the whole of reality and who can bestow upon us what we, by ourselves, cannot attain. The fact that it comes to us as a gift is actually part of hope. God is the foundation of hope: not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end, each one of us and humanity in its entirety. His Kingdom is not an imaginary hereafter, situated in a future that will never arrive; his Kingdom is present wherever he is loved and wherever his love reaches us. His love alone gives us the possibility of soberly persevering day by day, without ceasing to be spurred on by hope, in a world which by its very nature is imperfect. His love is at the same time our guarantee of the existence of what we only vaguely sense and which nevertheless, in our deepest self, we await: a life that is ‘truly’ life.”
~Benedict XVI

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Without, Within, Above

O God without me, forbid that I should look to-day upon the work of Thy hands and give no thought to Thee the Maker. Let the heavens declare Thy glory to me and the hills Thy majesty. Let every fleeting loveliness I see speak to me of a loveliness that does not fade. Let the beauty of earth be to me a sacrament of the beauty of holiness made manifest in Jesus Christ my Lord.

O God within me, give me grace to-day to recognize the stirrings of Thy Spirit within my soul and to listen most attentively to all that Thou hast to say to me. Let not the noises of the world ever so confuse me that I cannot hear Thee speak. Suffer me never to deceive myself as to the meaning of Thy commands; and so let me in all things obey Thy will, through the grace of Jesus Christ my Lord.

O God above me, God who dwellest in light unapproachable, teach me, I beseech Thee, that even my highest thoughts of Thee are but dim and distant shadowings of Thy transcendent glory. Teach me that if Thou art in nature, still more art Thou greater than nature. Teach me that if Thou art in my heart, still more art Thou greater than my heart. Let my soul rejoice in Thy mysterious greatness. Let me take refuge in the thought that Thou art utterly beyond me, beyond the sweep of my imagination, beyond the comprehension of my mind, Thy judgments being unsearchable and Thy ways past finding out.

O Lord, hallowed by They name. Amen.
~John Baillie

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Excerpt from Uncle Tom’s Cabin

When the boat, creaking, and groaning, and puffing, had loosed from the wharf, and was beginning slowly to strain herself along, the woman returned to her old seat. The trader was sitting there, - the child was gone!

"Why, why, - where?" she began, in bewildered surprise.

"Lucy," said the trader, "your child's gone; you may as well know it first as last. You see, I know'd you couldn't take him down south; and I got a chance to sell him to a first-rate family, that'll raise him better than you can."

The trader had arrived at that stage of Christian and political perfection which has been recommended by some preachers and politicians of the north, lately, in which he had completely overcome every humane weakness and prejudice. His heart was exactly where yours, sir, and mine could be brought, with proper effort and cultivation. The wild look of anguish and utter despair that the woman cast on him might have disturbed one less practised; but he was used to it. He had seen that same look hundreds of times. You can get used to such things, too, my friend; and it is the great object of recent efforts to make our whole northern community used to them, for the glory of the Union. So the trader only regarded the mortal anguish which he saw working in those dark features, those clenched hands, and suffocating breathings, as necessary incidents of the trade, and merely calculated whether she was going to scream, and get up a commotion on the boat; for, like other supporters of our peculiar institution, he decidedly disliked agitation.

But the woman did not scream. The shot had passed too straight and direct through the heart, for cry or tear.

Dizzily she sat down. Her slack hands fell lifeless by her side. Her eyes looked straight forward, but she saw nothing. All the noise and hum of the boat, the groaning of the machinery, mingled dreamily to her bewildered ear; and the poor, dumb-stricken heart had neither cry nor tear to show for its utter misery. She was quite calm.

The trader, who, considering his advantages, was almost as humane as some of our politicians, seemed to feel called on to administer such consolation as the case admitted of.

"I know this yer comes kinder hard, at first, Lucy," said he; "but such a smart, sensible gal as you are, won't give way to it. You see it's necessary, and can't be helped!"

"O! don't, Mas'r, don't!" said the woman, with a voice like one that is smothering.

"You're a smart wench, Lucy," he persisted; "I mean to do well by ye, and get ye a nice place down river; and you'll soon get another husband, - such a likely gal as you - "

"O! Mas'r, if you only won't talk to me now," said the woman, in a voice of such quick and living anguish that the trader felt that there was something at present in the case beyond his style of operation. He got up, and the woman turned away, and buried her head in her cloak.
~Harriet Beecher Stowe

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hope

“To come to know God—the true God—means to receive hope. We who have always lived with the Christian concept of God, and have grown accustomed to it, have almost ceased to notice that we possess the hope that ensues from a real encounter with this God. The example of a saint of our time can to some degree help us understand what it means to have a real encounter with this God for the first time. I am thinking of the African Josephine Bakhita…
She was born around 1869—she herself did not know the precise date—in Darfur in Sudan. At the age of nine, she was kidnapped by slave-traders, beaten till she bled, and sold five times in the slave-markets of Sudan. Eventually she found herself working as a slave for the mother and the wife of a general, and there she was flogged every day till she bled; as a result of this she bore 144 scars throughout her life. Finally, in 1882, she was bought by an Italian merchant for the Italian consul Callisto Legnani, who returned to Italy as the Mahdists advanced. Here, after the terrifying ‘masters’ who had owned her up to that point, Bakhita came to know a totally different kind of ‘master’—in Venetian dialect, which she was now learning, she used the name ‘paron’ for the living God, the God of Jesus Christ. Up to that time she had known only masters who despised and maltreated her, or at best considered her a useful slave. Now, however, she heard that there is a ‘paron’ above all masters, the Lord of all lords, and that this Lord is good, goodness in person. She came to know that this Lord even knew her, that he had created her—that he actually loved her. She too was loved, and by none other than the supreme ‘Paron’, before whom all other masters are themselves no more than lowly servants. She was known and loved and she was awaited. What is more, this master had himself accepted the destiny of being flogged and now he was waiting for her ‘at the Father's right hand’. Now she had ‘hope’ —no longer simply the modest hope of finding masters who would be less cruel, but the great hope: ‘I am definitively loved and whatever happens to me—I am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good.’ Through the knowledge of this hope she was ‘redeemed’, no longer a slave, but a free child of God. She understood what Paul meant when he reminded the Ephesians that previously they were without hope and without God in the world—without hope because without God. Hence, when she was about to be taken back to Sudan, Bakhita refused; she did not wish to be separated again from her ‘Paron’…
…besides her work in the sacristy and in the porter's lodge at the convent, she made several journeys round Italy in order to promote the missions: the liberation that she had received through her encounter with the God of Jesus Christ, she felt she had to extend, it had to be handed on to others, to the greatest possible number of people. The hope born in her which had ‘redeemed’ her she could not keep to herself; this hope had to reach many, to reach everybody.”
~Benedict XVI

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What is Man?

Consider the four gospels
consider the controversies and convergence,
consider the contradictions which are the authentification
of true events.

Consider the holy apostles in debate and misunderstanding.
Consider this: that even they needed time and steadfastness
and faith and prayer to find clarity and mercy and peace―
and from this the fruitfulness heaven desired.

All men are tested.
All servants of the King are tested mightily.

The steadfast man says, “Here I will stay. I shall not be moved.”
And in this his soul speaks: “Here is the place where I accept to be killed.”
Yes, on this battleground. In this desolation. In this place of defeat, will the victory be found.

And with all men be of single heart, listening to the eternal in them;
be not dissuaded nor convinced by every tale formed on their tongues,
for even in the mouths of the best, a tale takes another shape than its true meaning,
and even in the mouths of the worst, a truth may be found.

Love all equally if you can,
but trust the few,
and even with these few, understand they are not perfection,
yet in their imperfections they carry their poverty toward eternity,
and in this way, with hammer and saw and wood and stone
and laughter and tears, they forge the shape
of the reliable word.

Look neither to the left nor to the right,
look not to opposing poles to find the true center;
do not measure equidistant from them,
for the earthbound poles shift
and the poles in men’s minds are more unreliable than these.

Be not a slave to the apparent,
but seek the perspective of a higher vantage point.
Climb the mast with patience,
endure the abstinence of the immediate
for the sake of what is beyond the arc
(the spin of the arc, which men call horizon,
which men call the line of horizon,
which is not in fact a fixed line,
for it is a wave,
the hiatus between matter and infinity).

Seek the true center, which is above.
See the true center, which is above.
~Michael O’Brien

Friday, July 10, 2009

Life Means So Much

This song is better when you can read the words and listen to the singing/music. However, I wanted to post the lyrics anyway...

Every day is a journal page
Every man holds a quill and ink
And there's plenty of room for writing in
All we do is believe and think
So will you compose a curse
Or will today bring the blessings
Fill the page with rhyming verse
Or some random sketchings

Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
That somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much

Everyday is a bank account
And time is our currency
So nobody's rich, nobody's poor
We get twenty-four hours each
So how are you gonna spend
Will you invest or squander
Try to get ahead
Or help someone who's under

Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
That somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much

Has anybody lived who knew the value of a life?
And don't you think giving His own
Would prove the worth of yours and mine?

Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
That somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much

Every day is a gift you've been given
Make the most of the time every minute you're living

~Chris Rice

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Learning to Adjust

At the store they gave me the wrong
package, but I took it home and decided
to live with it. Why complain? Why
upset the clerk or the manager? Besides
this package might be more than
I deserve. Look―it has a whole tangle
of ribbons around it and many greetings
and slogans: “Be happy.” “Return to sender.”
“Who is Terza McDonald?” “For you,
Pig Head.” Your life already
has enough puzzles, and returning anything
just complicates the plot. A gift
is a gift. Just what you always wanted.

~William Stafford

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Name Jesus

“When I name Jesus, I set before me a man who is meek and humble of heart, kind, prudent, chaste, merciful, flawlessly upright and holy in the eyes of all; and this same man is the all-powerful God whose way of life heals me, whose support is my strength. All these re-echo for me at the hearing of Jesus’ name.”
~St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Resurrection

“The world is full of resurrections. Every night that folds us up in darkness is a death; and those of you that have been out early, and have seen the first of the dawn, will know it―the day rises out of the night like a being that has burst its tomb and escaped into life.”
~George MacDonald

Monday, July 6, 2009

Reservoir vs. Canal

“If then you are wise, you will show yourself rather as a reservoir than as a canal. For a canal spreads abroad water as it receives it, but a reservoir waits until it is filled before overflowing, and thus communicates, without loss to itself, its superabundant water.
…In the church at the present day, we have many canals, few reservoirs.”
~St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Unraveling the Mystery of Suffering

2 Corinthians 1:
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; 7 and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort. 8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, 11 you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.


Why do we suffer?
Reason #1: That we may be prepared to comfort others.
(When suffering hits, time passes, and it doesn’t leave, instead of focusing only on yourself now, try to focus on the benefits to others that will come from this later. Broken people understand people being broken. This will give you hope.)

Reason #2: That we should not trust in ourselves.
(Rather than fighting, surrender. Rather than resisting, release. Give it to God. This will increase your faith. Somehow in the therapy, in the process of releasing, God comes in like a flood and fills the empty spaces.)

Reason #3: That we might learn to give thanks in everything.
(Even though getting even seems to make better sense, try to give thanks. This will bring peace.)
~Charles Swindoll

Jeremiah 29:
11'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.


“O Lord my God, who dwellest in pure and blessed serenity beyond the reach of mortal pain, yet lookest down in unspeakable love and tenderness upon the sorrows of earth, give me grace, I beseech Thee, to understand the meaning of such afflictions and disappointments as I myself am called upon to endure. Deliver me from all fretfulness. Let me be wise to draw from every dispensation of Thy providence the lesson Thou art minded to teach me. Give me a stout heart to bear my own burdens. Give me a willing heart to bear the burdens of others. Give me a believing heart to cast all burdens upon Thee.

Glory be to Thee, O Father, and to Thee, O Christ, and to Thee, O Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.”
~John Baillie

Saturday, July 4, 2009

He is no fool

“He is no fool who gives that which he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
~Jim Elliot

Friday, July 3, 2009

Always

“Always seek peace between your heart and God, but in this world, always be careful to remain ever-restless, never satisfied, and always abounding in the work of the Lord.”
~Jim Elliot

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Spiritual Gravity

“…God is spiritual gravity and God pulls us towards Himself, like a massive sun. If His rays are blocked in one place, we must go elsewhere to find them, for find them we must! They draw us, they give us life. They are a matter of life or death, not a religious shopping mart. You may think this God-Gravity somewhat speculative, but why should God have less gravity than the sun? Why should there be less gravity in grace than in nature? Why should the spiritual universe be less united by gravity than the physical universe? The parallel works perfectly.”
~Peter Kreeft

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Unveiled

“Lord, this morning I read a chapter in the Bible, and therein observed a memorable passage whereof I never took notice before. Why now, and no sooner did I see it? Formerly my eyes were as open, and the letters were as legible. Is there not a thin veil laid over Thy Word, which is more rarefied by reading and at last wholly worn away? I see the oil of Thy Word will never leave increasing whilst any bring an empty barrel.”
~Thomas Fuller

“Here is a straw of hope for the patient persevering reader! But had Thomas Fuller turned his attention to the none-too-thin veil of timidity, lethargy, and preoccupation that is laid over the will of the reader, he might have come even nearer to the veil that must be rarefied and worn away before the eyes may truly be open. It must be worn away not only by continued reading but by the coincident work of the invisible companion who acts upon us at each instant of our lives. Upon the occasion of our life experiences of joy, of suffering, of creating, of failure, of trust kept, of betrayal, steadily and without a shadow of turning, this presence haunts us, pulverizes our pretences, heals our bruises, draws on our partial responses, and waits for us to awaken and respond to the everlasting mercy…”
~Douglas Steere

12 Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, 13 not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. 14 But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. 15 Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; 16 but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
~2 Corinthians 3:12-18